Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen arrived in Hawaii Saturday en route to three Pacific island nations that Taiwan has official relations with – the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands. Tsai’s transit via US territory to the islands is a focus of attention of her visit.
Most Taiwan “allies” are in Central America and the South Pacific. Transiting via the US to these small states is a trick that the Taiwan administration has long been fond of playing. Whether to allow the Taiwan leader’s transit and the level of reception has become a way for Washington to express its attitude to the Taiwan administration over time.
Generally speaking, Washington receives the Taiwan leader with a higher level than before. Tsai transits via Hawaii and Guam to and from the islands this time, and meanwhile some of her unofficial activities have received medium-level treatments.
On the one hand, Taiwan is left with only 20 “allies” and the population of the largest one is less than Taiwan’s. The US federal government only recognizes Tsai’s private identity during her transit. This is a deplorable situation for the Taiwan administration.
But on the other, both Taiwan and the US have sneaking calculations over the transit. Although carrying little weight in the overall Asia-Pacific pattern, these little tricks may create disturbances some day if no notice is taken of them.
Therefore, the Chinese mainland should lodge representations with the US over Tsai’s transit, and meanwhile warn Tsai to behave herself, exerting the necessary pressure on both sides. In the meantime, we should be confident that Taiwan has been left with little “diplomatic” space and that it is hard for the Tsai administration to make waves.
With the rise of the mainland, the one-China policy is increasingly embedded into today’s world order. This is an irreversible trend. The Taiwan administration can only express its resistant sentiments by verbal provocations or by playing the angles. Meanwhile, the US is willing to have such exchanges with Taiwan in its competition with the mainland. This is the essence of Tsai’s transit via the US.
The mainland has the capability to control the overall cross-Straits relationship. Obviously, Tsai is much more prudent than her predecessor Chen Shui-bian, but the Taiwan administration will still get up to petty actions for a certain period of time.
The mainland may have to teach the provocative Taiwan some lessons from time to time, and take retaliatory measures against the US correspondingly. The mainland will for sure become more dominant in this game.
Actions should be taken to prevent the US and Taiwan from radical tricks that may be played to balance Taiwan’s shrinking “diplomatic” space and Washington’s declining bargaining chips toward the mainland. The US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Taiwan Travel Act this month in an attempt to raise the level of exchanges between the US and Taiwan. There’s still a long way before the bill can be approved into a law, but it reflects Washington’s dissimulation of its weakening strategic advantages over Beijing.
The mainland should readjust its mentality in dealing with Taiwan and the US. With more dominance over the Taiwan question, the mainland can handle these affairs with confidence.
Source: Global Times